"Changing the Game" is a series featuring prominent Latino changemakers and their stories of success, innovation, and vision.These C-Suite executives are changing the face of corporate America. Through these interviews, we hope to share with our audience a glimpse of the person behind the title and what motivates and influences them.

Latin Post: As COO (Chief Operating Officer) you are in that coveted group of senior executives that have reached the pinnacle of the corporate ladder, the C-Suite. There is a scarcity of Latinos in C-Suite positions. It is a difficult path to attain. Can you give us a snapshot of your career path and how you began your ascent to becoming Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Save the Children?

Carlos Carrazana: I started my career in banking, international banking, with Chase New York then with Wells Fargo working with Ministries of Health around the world. But, in my mid-thirties, I realized I wanted to do something totally different. I went back to school and got a Master's in Public Health in Epistemology and that's how I transferred into this world for global development. I also have an MBA in Finance so I was able to combine the two and move into this world of helping children. I worked at Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) for many years I was the COO there until I met my new boss, Carolyn Miles, and moved to Save the Children.

LP: Why the advocacy route?

CC: My work at Elizabeth Glaser was very fulfilling. The mission of the organization is to eradicate Pediatric Aids and it doesn't get better than that. But, I really wanted to help children in a more holistic way. What is beautiful about Save the Children is we help children be healthy, grow healthy, to have a quality education, and be protected from harm and violence. This is what took me to a much larger nonprofit with all interventions done in a more comprehensive way.

LP: The career path to the top of the corporate ladder is a challenging one. Our audience is comprised of over 50 percent millennials who find articles about successful executives very inspirational and aspirational. What advice would you offer someone on how they can prepare themselves for reaching the top?

CC: One of the skills that is much better to develop when you are younger is the ability to influence. Also, the ability to persuade and the ability to move an agenda forward; not this top down approach - that is a thing of the past. I see the millennials now are much more open to new ideas, new perspectives. Developing the skills of listening, having empathy, and building trust-- that is how you move things forward in this day and age.

LP: "Are leaders born or made?" -- a question constantly asked in management books and conversations. If you look at the arc of your career, what leadership traits and attributes appear to have been there from the start and which did you consciously decide to cultivate?

CC: My nature is to be very optimistic, very positive in general. I think this helps you a lot as you move up in your career. Your staff, your employees, your donors want to see someone positive, someone optimistic. You still have to be very realistic but to be a leader that is inspirational, you need to have an outlook that is positive. I have that, it is part of my background, it comes easier to me. It takes a lot of energy to constantly be positive -- for me it's a pleasure and it has helped me a lot as I moved up in my career. I had to learn how to listen, how to have a lot of empathy, how to incorporate different perspectives so that my critical thinking is better. There are a lot of skills that you can definitely learn but being an optimistic and positive person in everything you do will really help you move up

LP: As you navigated the corporate waters, did you have mentors? What advice did you benefit the most from?

CC: I had the pleasure to work for Pamela Barnes who was the first COO at Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Then she moved to CEO and I took on her job. What I learned from her is simply to be kind, to have warmth. It is important to portray power -- that you can make decisions. It's important to have presence, but that warmth and that ability to have compassion and be kind with your staff, people will never forget that.

LP: If someone asked you to use five words to describe an effective leader, what would those words be?

CC: Good listener; empathetic -- ability to connect; ability to achieve trust -- that's all about being authentic; ability to provide direction and alignment -- Pretty much what I do ... I help the team and my VPs to continue to be aligned to our vision, to our mission, to stay connected, to make sure our board, our staff, our management are all aligned to what we are doing. That ability to constantly bring things back on track is very important. It is a skill that can be developed.

LP: You are sitting on a high perch and have the power that goes with it, what continues to motivate you?

CC: What is really motivating me is our new strategy for Save the Children with a goal of 2030. We are looking at focusing on the most marginalized children, the most deprived. This takes more resources since these are children that are harder to reach. We want impact at scale. We are proud of working in 120 countries, in every community in the country, but going that extra mile and reaching that child going into that village where no one is there now. Save the Children will be there. That is extremely rewarding.

LP: How do you find a work/life balance between being the corporate leader and being the spouse, parent, friend etc...?

CC: I am very close to my family. Most of my family lives in Miami. I go there at least six times a year. Washington, D.C.. is home, I play tennis. I do try to disconnect. I don't believe in being on 24 hours. It is a matter of brain space. You need to take care of your emotional and mental needs.

LP: If you had the ability to go into a time machine and go back in time and see your 21-year old self, knowing now the arc of your career, is there anything you would have done differently?

CC: In terms of the career, I love having a banking background, the finance, the accounting, the ability to move things forward in a linear way. What I would have done differently is choosing my battles. I think the younger we are, the feistier, the more competitive, the more we question. You can do all that but in a different way. I would have modified some of my behaviors if I would have known you don't need that to move up in your career. I think as Latinos we are constantly trying to prove ourselves. We want to be better; we want to move up quickly, so that brings that level of competition that at times is not needed.

LP: You have addressed your Latino background and how it affected you, can you delve further into what Latinos bring from their cultural background to the corporate life.

CC: I have an interesting background, I was born in Cali, Colombia but my parents are Cuban but I grew up most of my life in Puerto Rico. We were called the CubanRicans! I love my background, so proud to be Latino (Hispanic). I think we have (generalizing) an appreciation of life. We tend to be generally optimistic as a culture. I think we bring that-the Latino culture, it's beautiful, and how we are able to keep the culture even when other generations may or may not speak the language the culture is still there.

LP: If you were to be remembered for one thing in your corporate life, what would that be? What type of legacy would you like to be remembered for?

CC: There have been dozens of COOs at Save the Children and there will be many more. What I do hope to be remembered for is the ability to change culture. Organizations are under so much stress. Non-Profits as you know well are under much stress because we need resources. We have huge ambition, we want to do so much for children, we constantly are having to do trade-offs. You can do all this in a very healthy environment, in a very healthy culture. And that includes listening, the ability to have empathy, the ability to build trust, changing behaviors of your staff. I do spend a lot of time in human resources issues; 50 percent of my time is trying to motivate our staff, to build that commitment. So that is what I hope to be remembered for, a COO that moved our staff forward and in periods of stress when the staff has anxiety, still keeps them motivated and committed -- not easy. I would hope that is my legacy.

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